History was created in Tobago yesterday when the youngest Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly was elected.
At 33, Ancil Dennis now holds the prestigious post.
The oath of office was administered by Presiding Officer Vanessa Cutting-Thomas at the Assembly Legislature yesterday afternoon.
Dennis was the only nominee submitted by the THA Majority. Assemblyman for Providence/Mason Hall/ Moriah Sheldon Cunningham moved the motion, while Assemblyman for Goodwood/Belle Garden Hayden Spencer seconded the motion. The oath of office was then administered to Dennis.
Speaking to the media following the proceedings, he said he was nervous and lost for words, but was humbled, thankful and grateful.
“This is an opportunity to serve the people of Tobago in this capacity and it is not an opportunity that has been afforded to many persons and Tobago has only had four chief secretaries in the last 20 years and therefore I intend to take this role seriously.
“My approach would be one of consensus. There are two words of have been the definition of my political career thus far and those words are humility and commitment and I’m saying, those are the words I will take forward in terms of how I act.”
He said he hopes to move Tobago forward not as one man, but with a team of competent individuals.
“Do not expect any showmanship from this Chief Secretary. It would not be about any great exploits from this Chief Secretary. It is going to be about a team of secretaries and assistant secretaries blessed with the distinguished opportunity to represent Tobagonians at this time and we will continue to take our responsibilities seriously, especially due to the fact that we are experiencing turbulent times.”
“So it is about us working together, not only in the executive council but us as Tobagonians working together to ensure that we do all in our power, to ensure that we find and utilise the resources, so even as we navigate these turbulent times. Every single Tobagonian will be able to come out of this with our dignity and of course our quality of life still intact,” he said.
Dennis said the appointment as Chief Secretary did not come as a surprise since he was being prepared from the time he entered politics at the age of 26 in 2013.
“Given the experience that I have had over the years, I have learnt a lot from the former Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, of course, the Chief Secretary before him Orville London, various colleagues of the Assembly before and the Assembly now, the Political Leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine. I have managed to tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience that has prepared me for this role over the years.”
Asked to comment on statements in the public domain, that he would be micromanaged by Davidson-Celestine due to his age, he said, one’s ability to lead has nothing to do with age.
“At the end of the day statements like that seem to suggest that there’s a difference between a young Chief Secretary and an older Chief Secretary in terms of their ability to lead and I’m saying the ability to lead, the ability to represent and serve, has nothing to with age. Yes, it may have to do with experience and I spoke about experience before and I think I have the characteristics to do an excellent job as Chief Secretary,” Dennis said.
Meanwhile Minority Leader Watson Duke to sought clarity from Presiding Officer Vanessa Cutting-Thomas if she had the right to elect a new Chief Secretary.
“Madam Presiding Officer, I am hereby seeking clarity, before I exercise my right as the Minority Leader, as to the Chapter and Verse within the Standing Orders that gives us the right to elect a Chief Secretary when one has resigned,” he asked.
Cutting-Thomas then quoted from Paragraph 11 Part 1 of the THA Act and Standing Orders (4) 2, “All members are invited to submit nominations for the position of Chief Secretary.”
After the sitting Duke said they deemed the proceedings as illegal. He said the Minority Council did not recognize Dennis as Chief Secretary and they would be seeking legal action.
“Anything he does is null, void and no effect. It is illegal. We are not just talking this, in a few days from now, when counsels are satisfied they would approach the High Court, to seek not just an injunction, but to reverse this, to nullify this election” he said.
Dennis previously held the positions of Assistant Secretary for Health, Wellness and Family Development and Deputy Presiding Officer.